It isn't the company you keep that follows you. It's the way you behave while in said company that marks your true nature. The huddled masses, whether we know them individually or not, tend to, when one allows themselves to be labeled, invoke a category, an assumption. It's pointless to contend with those stereotypes, with those assumptions. It's human nature to make blind generalizations. Sad, but true.
I work with many people who believe in absolutely nothing. There is no God, according to those individuals. There is no 'fairies making the flowers bloom or the sun rise.' (Direct quote, that). Believing in nothing seems, for many I know, a necessity, a purposeful comfort that I can neither understand or, to be honest, give little thought to. The point is, these individuals do not believe. I, however, do. Thanks to others that claim my label, because I do count myself as a Christian (I can see you rolling your eyes...can hear your heavy sighs), I find myself, more frequently lately explaining my ideals ad nauseam.
Thanks to the Jim Bakers and God above Pat Robertsons of the world, many assume that because I have faith, because I do 'believe,' my mindset and ideology is equal to those yahoos that belittle, judge and openly condemn those who do not believe.
Robertson, last week when the earthquake happened in Haiti, found it necessary to say that Haiti was cursed. (Though playing devil's advocate I believe the quote was pulled out of some long ago given interview) His contention was that historical Haitians had made a pact with the devil to rid the island of the French. They would practice Voodoo and 'the devil' would get rid of the French. Of course, it happened, right? I don't need to explain Haitian political history, do I?
But, once again, I found myself defending my faith. My co-workers--self proclaimed 'Angry Atheist,' pulled a frayed thread and I had to respond. I explained that the Robertsons of the world do not speak for every Christian. Nor does every Conservative, every Republican, and God above knows, every Right Wing Politician, Talk Radio Idiot or even, priests or pastors.
I hate religion. I hate what religion has done to people's faith. I hate that murders and wars and bigotry and ignorance is delivered in my God's name. I hate that heresy is an excuse for execution or that blind belief is used as justification for atrocities. Religion kills people's spirituality, it, in many regards, diminishes people's faith.
I believe that the God I serve and His son aren't ironic in their dictations nor are they concerned with exacting vengeance. Simply put, I believe Christ was meek, caring, loving, forgiving. I believe that God created us, gave us free will, so that we could see His grace, understand His hope in us. The God I worship does not hate, does not want his followers to do so either.
I have seen miraculous wonders. I have watched life form in my body, have seen the miracle of it all expand and grow, evolve and strengthen. I have seen the terminally ill, cured. I have felt the indescribable love and generosity of my Father shoot through my spirit, cradle my soul. I have experienced power and majesty that I could not possibly describe. I have felt God's presence, have witnessed His splendor despite my sometimes cynicism.
I'm educated. I understand the theory of scientific explanation. I appreciate the quest for knowledge and the 'proof' of all of us being some amazing accident. But no proof, no theory can ever weaken my faith. No hypothesis could change my mind, break my spirit.
We are not perfect. We falter in our walk, in our daily experiences. We made poor choices. We lie. We are envious. We are weak. We are human. Most importantly, we are forgiven.
So when you see something on the news, hear some maniac spewing out hate or giving their opinion on sin or violence or why God does this or that, please remember this 'religious leaders' do not speak for all of us. Some Christians do love unconditionally. Some of us do not judge. Some of us generally feel loss and happiness just like those who do not believe. The difference is we take solace in our Father. The difference is, we try our level best to honor our Father's design. Don't let the hate you hear decide for you. Don't let the corrupt who wave our flag settle your opinions.
Don't let the few, speak for the many.